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Simple Doesn’t Mean Easy, with Heath Lander and Raphael Bender

By January 9, 2022July 5th, 2022Become a better instructor

In the Diploma of Clinical Pilates program, students learn an invaluable resource for exercise programming called the “exercise toolbox.” Today, you’ll learn what it is and how to create your own exercise toolbox in this interview with Heath Lander. Today we discuss how to find the best type of exercise and level of intensity for each client on any given day and discover the power of simple, layered exercise programming.

What You Will Learn: 

  • What is the Exercise Toolbox (as taught in the Diploma of Clinical Pilates)?
  • How you can use the Exercise Toolbox to challenge each client at the right level 
  • How to design a dynamic warm-up that reduces injury risk and improves performance
  • How to support clients’ autonomy and use critical thinking skills when designing challenge
  • The power of simplicity in programming, and why it’s what your clients actually want

What is the Exercise Toolbox? 

The Exercise Toolbox is a list of exercises broken down into layers of challenge. Each list is made up of five to seven exercises based on one movement such as the push-up, curl-up, squat, etc. The main idea is to have a list of increasingly difficult exercises which you can use with any client, any time, regardless of what kind of day they’re having in terms of pain or ability level. Start at the bottom and work your way up with them. This way, according to Heath, clients don’t feel the discouragement and frustration of starting hard and having to modify. Rather, they get to feel stronger and more confident as they start simple and work up to more challenging exercises. 

The Power of Simplicity

The Exercise Toolbox is a specific way to think about exercise programming which allows instructors to think about movement in terms of strength, range of motion, and control. Heath and Raph discuss the beauty of simplicity in exercise programming but remind us that just because something is simple, it isn’t necessarily easy. With the right level of resistance, range of motion or instability, something as simple as lunges or body weight squats can be extremely challenging. Teaching complicated exercises just because they seem more challenging can be anything but enjoyable for the client. What’s amazing about the Exercise Toolbox is that because of its simplicity, you will be able to give your client the right level of challenge at the right time to move them to towards their goals.

How the Exercise Toolbox Helps Instructors to Improve

Heath explains how the exercise toolbox developed as he observed new Pilates instructors over the past several years. He noticed that new instructors who came to his studio had learned hundreds of exercises which weren’t progressive or grouped in any meaningful way. He also saw that instructors felt pressured to have a wide variety of exercises in each class and avoid repeating exercises. They thought that if they didn’t do it this way, their classes wouldn’t be popular. But Heath observed that those Pilates teachers who taught essentially the same set of movements each class were the most successful. Clients knew what to expect and felt challenged, not to mention, the teacher got really good at teaching those exercises! 

About Raphael Bender:

Raph believes everyone deserves the opportunity to transform into a better version of themselves. His main strength as a teacher and movement professional is the ability to distill complex research findings into a simple, science-based approach to help people move fearlessly, thoughtlessly, and painlessly. He LOVES running, weights, cycling, and Contrology.

Raph holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology (Rehabilitation), a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science, Diploma of Pilates Movement Therapy, and STOTT PILATES full certification.

How to Connect with Raphael:

Purchase Raph’s new book:

  • Strengthen The Person Not Just The Body Part here
About Heath Lander:

Heath Lander had a chance encounter with Pilates which completely changed his life’s direction. He began training as a Pilates instructor at Breathe Education while seeing private clients in his home. Meanwhile, he was still working full time as a special needs art teacher and getting accustomed to life as a single dad. Over the next decade he taught over 15,000 hours of group and small group/clinical classes. He went on to open two locations of White Dog Studio, where the mission is to provide challenging, rewarding, and effective exercise for people over 40. He has also worked as an instructor trainer at Breathe Education since 2011 and has taught in the Certificate and Diploma courses. In 2021, he began working full time for Breathe Education and has created coursework and tutorial materials for the updated Diploma of Clinical Pilates. His other professional passion is online mentoring and trainer development through his personal brand, Contrology Collective.

How to Connect with Heath:

  • Find Heath on Instagram here
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